Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The People You’ll Meet

By: Judi Stuart
Port Discover - Visitor Services Manager

The People You’ll Meet

One of the luxuries of semi-retirement is that you enjoy the gift of time and you can decide how you will use that time. Do you remember when “stop and smell the flowers” was a popular saying? Well, now I would say, “stop and enjoy the people.” In my mini-retirement job the thing I have enjoyed the most is meeting a greater variety of people.

Every day I am enlightened and surprised by the people that interact at Port Discover. An amazing array of folks come to both enjoy the benefits of the center and to contribute their talents to its mission.

Last year Port Discover had approximately 10,000 contacts which is about 200 per week. Most of the students are from ages one year to age 12. Some come with their parents and others come with school groups.

The students touched by the outreach education programs performed by the science educators is another big group. Students from Girls Inc., the Boys and Girls Club, La Casa, and the YMCA attend the monthly after-school programs. Birthday parties are held at the center and kids learn while they celebrate.

Parents of young children sometimes arrange play dates with friends so their children can enjoy the toddler section together. It is interesting to see the interaction between parent and child while they are both in the teaching-learning mode.

Grandparents are frequent visitors with their grandchildren. Often the kids are visiting, and the grandparent knows that Port Discover is a place where they can interact with a purpose. Both participants have a good time and leave feeling that the time was well spent.

Sometimes families who are taking extended trips by boat and are home schooling their children spend time using the educational resources available at the center. One family who visited the center had sold their home and business and had traveled down the Mississippi River and was on the way to Maine. They had spent a year on their journey and shared some of their adventures and observations about our area. Port Discover and the Museum were featured in their blog that week.

A family from Canada brought their year old son to experience the exhibits. They became so interested in the Kids Grow garden project that the father volunteered several hours laboring in the garden. Another family from Canada traveling by sailboat brought their children and spent the afternoon. The mother was a teacher of Eskimo children and was on a paid sabbatical leave.

Volunteers include students from ECSU, MACU, NHS, PHS, and NC School of Math and Science. Retired teachers, parents, grandparents, USCG members, Port Discover members, and other interested citizens volunteer their time to make the many activities at Port Discover happen.

If you’d like to be involved in helping kids broaden their horizons about science and education in general, come and join in on the fun. You’ll meet people who share your interests and are making their world a better place for today and tomorrow.

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